Alan Lane

  • Operations manager at Huhtamaki's Fulton, NY, plant

  • Personal motto | If you haven't got time to do it right the first time, where are you going to find the time to do it over?

  • How did you get into the converting business? I was teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Industrial Arts when my neighbor said, “I've got to get you into Miller's.” He was referring to a Miller Brewing Co. container plant. I went to work there as a quality technician.

  • What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out? I've gained a vast amount of experience working with various disciplines in manufacturing facilities. I wish I had that experience when I first started.

  • What is the best advice you ever got? Nothing good ever results from panic.

  • What's the worst advice you ever got? Many years ago, while looking for a position, a recruiter misinformed me about a company in the Midwest. It led to a very poor fit.

  • How do you retain good employees? Hire them right from the get-go, train them efficiently, and challenge them every day to be better. Then, cut them loose and let them do their jobs!

  • What keeps you up at night with regard to your business? That dreaded phone call that someone has been injured.

  • What sustainability efforts has your company made? We recycle all waste materials — paper, plastic, and metal. We replaced high-energy-usage equipment with high-efficiency units. Active teams work on cost savings in all areas, which leads to reduced energy and material needs.

  • What makes you proud? About four years ago, we began a journey of embracing a continuous-improvement culture. Not only have our employees climbed on this train, they've converted it into a bullet train. Through their efforts, we have been able to grow our business significantly, while reducing our operating costs, allowing for nearly 100% payouts of gain sharing. I am most proud of our employees.

  • What do you enjoy most about your job? I work with a really diverse bunch of characters on our management team. This interaction is a blast.

  • How do you handle a difficult customer? Generally, customers will be reasonable if you can provide an immediate solution to their predicament. It's critical that you understand customers are buying packaging for their reasons, not yours, and it's up to you to provide what they need.

  • Who is your personal hero? My dad. He taught me basic problem-solving at a very early age.

  • What advice would you give to someone just starting out? Plan the work; work the plan.

  • What does your company do for customers that makes them enjoy the experience of doing business with you? We have always been a “can-do” company, and our employees are very good at getting quality product out to the customer on time. The last thing customers want to worry about is packaging, and our customers don't have to.

About Huhtamaki

  • 100 State St., Fulton, NY 13069


  • One of 11 divisions in North America; this former Sealright Packaging plant, acquired in 1998, employs 650.

  • Specialty | Paperboard cups and covers for ice cream

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